Voters headed to the polls in West Seneca this November will choose from candidates who think some of the key issues facing the town include term limits, hiring, police and first responders and transparency.
Town voters will choose from four candidates for two seats on the Town Council next month: Democrats, William J. Bauer and David G. Smaczniak, and Republicans Robert J. Breidenstein and Susan K. Kims. The top two vote-getters will hold four-year terms on the West Seneca board, which now has four members plus the town supervisor.
Democrats control the board currently, 3-2, however both of the seats up this year are in their column. That means the Republicans need win only one race to take control of town government for the next two years.
Here's what the candidates had to say:
William J. Bauer
Bauer, 65, is an incumbent on the Town Board and has the Democratic, Conservative and Working Families lines. A resident of the town for 34 years, Bauer went to Hutch-Tech and Alfred State, and is retired from a construction company.
Important issues in West Seneca, Bauer said, include taxes, which are a “little bit skewed.”
“We were very heavy on the residential. So the taxpayers in the town were taking an unbalanced” share of the tax levy, Bauer said.
The incumbent candidate said he views hiring as a big issue, too.
“We just need to be a little bit more ingenious,” Bauer said. “It's hard to hire people and it's hard to retain the people you have.”
Another of his priorities is flooding in West Seneca, Bauer said. “We've had occasional flooding,” he said. “When you have a flood it affects an enormous amount of people.”
Robert J. Breidenstein
For Breidenstein, 54, who runs the Salamanca City School District as the superintendent, key areas of concern include support for people who are first responders, and to him, that “starts with a relationship.”
Breidenstein is seeking to gain a spot on the Town Council toward the end of a career in education. He is an endorsed Republican and Conservative candidate in the race and also has the "Back the Blue" line.
Breidenstein, who attended school in Orchard Park, as well as SUNY Brockport for an undergraduate degree and one of his two master's degrees, the other being from Canisius College, said one of the top issues facing West Seneca is residents who feel like they don't have a chance to be heard. He said "honest, open conversations” should take place.
A second big issue for Breidenstein would be supporting first responders, with police, fire, rescue, emergency services and highway and sanitation people among them.
“When you are most vulnerable, they are the ones who will respond first,” Breidenstein said. “Having that relationship helps.”
A third big issue for Breidenstein in the town election is term limits. “An individual should not be a career politician,” he said.
“I would feel very comfortable with it,” he said, of term limits. “Not just comfortable – 100% I would vote for it.”
David G. Smaczniak
For Smaczniak, 48, who works in the Frontier Central School District as district director for support operations, he is paying attention to concerns about any diminishing of the town's police force.
People want to live in "a strong, safe community,” Smaczniak said.
Smaczniak, who was raised in Cheektowaga but has lived in West Seneca for 34 years, has support including the Democratic and Working Families parties. He went to Canisius College for undergraduate study and has three master's degrees.
Smaczniak said the chief issues he sees as important in the town are lowering taxes and economic development.
The police force and concerns about diminishing it are another top issue, he said. “We need to have a full contingent of sworn officers,” Smaczniak said.
The quality of life in West Seneca is also a priority for Smaczniak. That would include recreational aspects of the town, he said.
“We definitely need to see if the town if satisfied with the one rink we have,” Smaczniak said, of the ice rink in West Seneca. “Ice demand is increasing. We need to see, do we have a need for a second rink?”
Susan K. Kims
For Kims, 69, who is retired after working various jobs, including as an insurance broker, a key issue before the town is transparency. Kims said that information "should be available.”
“Especially for the taxpayer ... they all want to know what their money is being spent on and how it's being spent,” she said.
Kims has Republican and "Back the Blue" endorsements in the race. She was born near Pittsburgh and moved to West Seneca in 1976. Her education included Erie Community College and courses in a business school.
On the issue of transparency, Kims said she would “encourage open conversation.”
“If you have a resident who gets up and speaks ... if they ask a question, it should be answered,” Kims said. “Sometimes ... you sit there, and you hear nothing.”
Besides transparency, Kims said term limits are, to her, a significant issue facing the town.
“I would support it if I was on the board,” Kims said, of term limits. "Maybe there can be a referendum.”
Fiscal responsibility and holding the line on taxes would be another of her priorities.
“We are spending more than we are taking in,” she said. “As a town board member, you’re just one vote.”
1.) William J. Bauer: * Democrat, Conservative and Working Families
2.) Robert J. Breidenstein: Republican, Conservative and "Back the Blue"
3.) Susan K. Kims: Republican and "Back the Blue"
4.) David G. Smaczniak: Democrat and Working Families